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Daniel Mark Cassity

I grew up in northeastern Louisiana where I cultivated two persistent themes: a love of nature, and an unquenchable need to make things. Simply put, "I am most satisfied when pursuing any number of projects of my own choosing." Making images, however - drawing and so forth - was always at the forefront from the earliest years: fueling, feeding, and otherwise trying to fulfill my imagination.

     My earliest memory of painting, a long-lost landscape in acrylic, was attempted around age 9. In my early teens, I received private instruction from Anne Goss Nelson of Bastrop, LA who challenged my perceptual rendering with the “paint what you see" notion, introducing color theory with oil, watercolor, and pastel. Validation followed with the winning of local art competitions beginning around age 13. In fact, (at 13) I sold my first painting to The News Star (paper) of Monroe, LA, after winning a student competition they had sponsored, for the grand sum of $35. No turning back now! Onward, it was. Accelerated Public School programs accepted me, as did a summer retreat for young art students and musicians, and though I have never considered myself a "good" or even adequate student (my mind wanders - Egads!), I was of course, absorbing bits here and there. Honing technical skills in my own time, my artistic interest gained momentum, just as my abilities gained further recognition.

      A B.F.A. was next. At Louisiana Tech University, I initially studied Design and Watercolor, then Graphic Design/Illustration (the highlight of which was acceptance into the Society of Illustrators’ 1986 Annual Scholarship Competition and Exhibition in NY) before committing fully to Fine Art. These were fruitful exploratory years, and so it was with the intent to teach that I arrived at East Carolina University for postgraduate studies in the fall of 1988. 

     In the early nineties, however, my desire to teach waned, and so I withdrew from graduate school after two years to self-educate and attempt an independent career. In figuring out this path - along with some positive results - I did every dumb thing a young artist can do. There were hits, but alas, many misses. Though serious, it was a haphazard effort with no plan in place. Onward still, randomly consigning paintings to galleries while continuing to exhibit in competitions and engage commission opportunities, a highlight of which was working on location on St. Thomas and St. John U.S.V.I. in 1993. Along the way I also sold fine art to such corporations as Pepsi Bottling Co. and Burroughs-Wellcome of Greenville, NC, the M.C.V. Hospital of Richmond, VA, and Atlanta Foods International. I also freelanced murals and architectural finishes in such prominent eastern NC homes as Parker and Becky Overton of Overton’s Sporting Goods. During much of this span of time however, I did the artistic equivalent of "living alone in a cave": isolating myself "artistically speaking" for around fifteen years in order to internalize, and challenge myself to discover what I had to offer that was of most value. In other words, what was - to the extent that any such thing can be - purely mine? After years of producing a wide variety of visual work (as well as fiction writing, and songwriting/recording), I began concentrating on the still life genre in 2006. Quickly I realized the genre offered the complexity I needed - symbolism, story implication, content density, etc. - combined with demonstrating a high level of painting skill. My still lifes quickly garnered attention. "Huh," I thought, then stepped out of my metaphorical cave, shook the dust from my tattered, paint-flecked garments, ran a few dirty fingers through my mussed up cave-hair, and with the warmth of the rising sun upon my weary face, drew deeply a breath of endless possibility.

      In 2009 I returned to Louisiana after twenty years in North Carolina, initially producing murals within Shreveport, all while anticipating a new still life studio. Then something unexpected happened; I crossed paths with an old friend from LA Tech days - Diana Garrison - and we got together as a couple. Shortly after, something else unexpected happened; I noticed Diana's son Jonathan folding an origami dragon. I told Diana privately "I'm going to use that", yet it was probably six months or more before I was finally able to conceptualize exactly how; the result was the painting "Torches, Tower, & Dragon." And so toward the end of 2011, began my Kingdom series, utilizing origami dragons as characters within suggested scenarios. That did it; I knew instantly that this was a deep well from which to draw. Soon after, Troll Dolls also joined the stage. Again, people noticed, and (for an artist) few things are more satisfying than that. A few highlights from my resume include the Society of Illustrators National Scholarship Competition, The Artist’s Magazine’s Annual Art Competitions, Oil Painters of America’s National Exhibitions, the Art Renewal Center’s International Salons, and the International Guild of Realism's Exhibitions. I also exhibited in the national museum exhibitions American Still Lifes, and the International Guild of Realism's Masterworks Museum Tour. I have also been promoted in American Art Collector, featured in Southwest Art Magazine, The Artist’s Magazine’s article “The Kingdom of the Origami Dragon Guy”, highlighted on the cover of Juxtaprose Literary Magazine, and included in Manifest’s International Painting Annual, volume 7. I also have multiple pieces in the permanent collection of the R.W. Norton Museum of Shreveport, LA, and the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education: College of Osteopathic Medicine, Fort Smith, AR. Nationally and internationally collected, I currently have Gallery representation with Gallery Central of Hot Springs, AR, and Greg Thompson Fine Art of Little Rock, AR.

      I am now fully immersed in my still life studio - The Dungeon - from where I share my imaginary world revealed in paint. My other creative interests still include songwriting/recording, and writing fictional short stories; these additional projects overlap greatly and so inform my painting studio, as is evidenced in my visual use of symbolism, story, and suggestion - not to mention Tales from The Kingdom (very brief fiction) written to complement each Kingdom painting. 

     And so with my interests as my compass, I continue to move ever forward, for from my perspective "an artist is an unstoppable force of nature – a particular genetic collision driven to produce – no matter what obstacles arise." 

    D.M. Cassity